- The Washington Times - Friday, September 6, 2002

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams yesterday picked up endorsements for his re-election bid from two former mayors and 16 former D.C. Council members.

"From my own experience as mayor of this city, I would say that if there is any public official who has earned the votes of its citizens on primary day, it is Tony Williams," said Walter Washington, the city's first mayor.

Mr. Washington was joined by former Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly and former council members, including Charlene Drew Jarvis, Wilhelmina Rolark and Frank Smith. The former city officials all Democrats expressed enthusiastic support for Mr. Williams' write-in campaign for Tuesday's Democratic primary.

A spokesman for the D.C. Council said all of its current Democratic members except Sandy Allen of Ward 8 will endorse the mayor this afternoon. Mrs. Allen has endorsed the Rev. Willie F. Wilson, who also is seeking the Democratic mayoral nomination as a write-in candidate.

Mr. Williams and Mr. Wilson were scheduled to debate last night at the University of the District of Columbia's auditorium in Northwest with the four Democratic primary candidates whose names will appear on the mayoral ballot. Independent candidate Robert Moore also was expected to participate in the debate, even though residents will not be able to cast a vote for him until the general election in November.

Mr. Moore was later told Independents could not join the panel.

It was "just as well," he said after witnessing the forum degenerate into a circus with James W. Clark throwing his microphone to the floor and Faith 40 minutes late blowing her bugle and disrupting the answers of other candidates.

The event ended half an hour early with Faith, Mr. Clark and the Rev. Douglas E. Moore the only candidates remaining in their seats. Mr. Williams, Mr. Wilson and Osie L. Thorpe left early.

Meanwhile, the D.C. Republican Party is encouraging voters to write in at-large council member Carol Schwartz's name on Tuesday's ballots. If Mrs. Schwartz wins the primary, she will have three days to decide if she will seek the office for a third time.

Mr. Williams and Mr. Wilson are considered the front-runners.

Recent polls show Mr. Williams far ahead of the other candidates. But they also note a large percentage of undecided voters.

Mr. Moore, who is the leading candidate among those whose names appear on the primary ballot, has been endorsed by the Ward 8 Democrats. He is the only candidate to receive an endorsement from any of the District's Democratic committees.

Mr. Wilson and Mr. Williams have been unable to receive Democratic committee endorsements because they are running write-in campaigns.

Mr. Wilson supported Mr. Williams' candidacy in 1998. But he criticized the incumbent for his proposal to move the University of the District of Columbia east of the Anacostia River and for closing D.C. General Hospital, which had long provided health care for the city's poor.

The outspoken pastor entered the mayor's race last month after the D.C. Court of Appeals upheld a D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics decision to keep Mr. Williams' name off the Democratic primary ballot, calling it the "straw that broke the camel's back."

Citing thousands of forgeries among the signatures on Mr. Williams' nominating petitions, the board opted to deny the mayor access to the primary ballot in June. The board also fined the Williams campaign $250,000, the largest such fine in the city's history.

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